We may never know the precise birth-date of the on-demand Economy, but 2016 was certainly the year that the concept came into more general awareness. Suddenly everyone was an expert on the “Gig Economy” as news of B2C companies and services such as Uber and Air BnB took the limelight with their economic growth.
Of course the Gig Economy is not without its woes, but it has certainly surfaced as an innovative way for service providers to find a broader marketplace, and for all of us to access a pool of global talent, directly, efficiently and cost-effectively.
Nowhere have the B2B/B2C lines been more blurred – with individuals now able to access talent and services that previously would have been almost strictly B2B. For example, Fiverr.com, a service set up in 2009 to provide *freelancer’s services such as digital design to a business marketplace. (The term for these freelancers has also changed – they are mostly known as “elancers”).
So what of the future of the B2B gig economy?
We might not be talking gigs here, but there is certainly an untapped resource in the B2B on-demand economy. For many companies it will be all about monetizing underused assets, for example:
- Warehouse space (many companies have seasonal warehouse usage, giving rise to a storage availability that can be pre-booked)
- Transportation availability (full lorries traveling in one direction, empty lorries travelling back – reducing carbon emissions)
- Logisitics services – from picking and packing to stock control
- Business services – administration, accounting, even entering the general gig economy to sell available expertise.
Many of these services are already available. For example warehouse-space brings together local warehouse availability. Cargomatic connects shippers with local licensed carriers. UKSBS offers to “work behind the scenes, providing shared and specialist services” and even the NHS is gaining benefits and recouping costs by outsourcing many of its available services, such as training and expertise.
Technology, trust and innovation.
Businesses have always shared resources with friends and neighbours, however technology opens our sharing nature up to a whole new marketplace. Trust can be supported as our reviews and comments are in the public domain. And innovation brings the opportunity to just avail oneself of a service as and when it is required – and to make money from an underused resource.
Far from being a purely gig-economy for B2C market, there is a vast on-demand potential for B2B. It’s something we should all expect to see more of. Embracing the sharing economy will keep costs down, profits up and even have serious benefits to the environment.